Skip to main content

The war against alternative information

McCarthyism 2.0 – part 5

The U.S. government is creating a new $160 million bureaucracy to shut down information that doesn’t conform to U.S. propaganda narratives, building on the strategy that sold the bloody Syrian “regime change” war.

by Rick Sterling

Suppressing and Censoring Challenges

Despite the widespread censorship of alternative analyses on Syria and other foreign hotspots that already exists in the West, the U.S. government’s new “Global Engagement Center” will seek to ensure that the censorship is even more complete with its goal to “counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation.” We can expect even more aggressive and better-financed assaults on the few voices daring to challenge the West’s “group thinks” – smear campaigns that are already quite extensive.

In an article titled “Controlling the Narrative on Syria”, Louis Allday describes the criticisms and attacks on journalists Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal for straying from the “approved” Western narrative on Syria. Some of the bullying and abuse has come from precisely those people, such as Robin Yassin-Kassab, who have been frequent guests in liberal Western media.

Reporters who have returned from Syria with accounts that challenge the propaganda themes that have permeated the Western media also have come under attack. For instance, Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett recently returned to North America after being in Syria and Aleppo, conveying a very different image and critical of the West’s biased media coverage. Bartlett appeared at a United Nations press conference and then did numerous interviews across the country during a speaking tour. During the course of her talks and presentation, Bartlett criticized the White Helmets and questioned whether it was true that Al Quds Hospital in opposition-held East Aleppo was attacked and destroyed as claimed.

Bartlett’s recounting of this information made her a target of Snopes, which has been a mostly useful website exposing urban legends and false rumors but has come under criticism itself for some internal challenges and has been inconsistent in its investigations. In one report entitled “White Helmet Hearsay,” Snopes’ writer Bethania Palmer says claims the White Helmets are “linked to terrorists” is “unproven,” but she overlooks numerous videos, photos, and other reports showing White Helmet members celebrating a Nusra/Al Qaeda battle victory, picking up the bodies of civilians executed by a Nusra executioner, and having a member who alternatively appears as a rebel/terrorist fighter with a weapon and later wearing a White Helmet uniform. The “fact check” barely scrapes the surface of public evidence.

The same writer did another shallow “investigation” titled “victim blaming” regarding Bartlett’s critique of White Helmet videos and what happened at the Al Quds Hospital in Aleppo. Bartlett suggests that some White Helmet videos may be fabricated and may feature the same child at different times, i.e., photographs that appear to show the same girl being rescued by White Helmet workers at different places and times. While it is uncertain whether this is the same girl, the similarity is clear.

The Snopes writer goes on to criticize Bartlett for her comments about the reported bombing of Al Quds Hospital in east Aleppo in April 2016. A statement at the website of Doctors Without Borders says the building was “destroyed and reduced to rubble,” but this was clearly false since photos show the building with unclear damage. Five months later, the September 2016 report by Doctors Without Borders says the top two floors of the building were destroyed and the ground floor Emergency Room damaged yet they re-opened in two weeks.

The many inconsistencies and contradictions in the statements of Doctors Without Borders resulted in an open letter to them. In their last report, Doctors Without Borders (known by its French initials, MSF) acknowledges that “MSF staff did not directly witness the attack and has not visited Al Quds Hospital since 2014.

Bartlett referenced satellite images taken before and after the reported attack on the hospital. The images do not show severe damage and it is unclear whether or not there is any damage to the roof, the basis for Bartlett’s statement. In the past week, independent journalists have visited the scene of Al Quds Hospital and report that the top floors of the building are still there and damage is unclear.

The Snopes’ investigation criticizing Bartlett was superficial and ignored the broader issues of accuracy and integrity in the Western media’s depiction of the Syrian conflict. Instead the article appeared to be an effort to discredit the eyewitness observations and analysis of a journalist who dared challenge the mainstream narrative.

U.S. propaganda and disinformation on Syria has been extremely effective in misleading much of the American population. Thus, most Americans are unaware how many billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on yet another “regime change” project. The propaganda campaign – having learned from the successful demonizations of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and other targeted leaders – has been so masterful regarding Syria that many liberal and progressive news outlets were pulled in. It has been left to RT and some Internet outlets to challenge the U.S. government and the mainstream media.

But the U.S. government’s near total control of the message doesn’t appear to be enough. Apparently even a few voices of dissent are a few voices too many.

The enactment of HR5181, “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation,” suggests that the ruling powers seek to escalate suppression of news and analyses that run counter to the official narrative. Backed by a new infusion of $160 million, the plan is to further squelch skeptical voices with operation for “countering” and “refuting” what the U.S. government deems to be propaganda and disinformation.

As part of the $160 million package, funds can be used to hire or reward “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions.

Among the tasks that these private entities can be hired to perform is to identify and investigate both print and online sources of news that are deemed to be distributing “disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda directed at the United States and its allies and partners.

In other words, we are about to see an escalation of the information war.

Source and links:


[1] [2] [3] [4]

Related:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Former Pentagon official confirms: Trump prepares for war with Iran

globinfo freexchange
Right after Trump's sudden announcement that he will withdraw the US forces from Syria, we had some mixed reactions. Some liberals reacted angrily, but most of the reactions from the liberal machine were rather moderate, or at least not as intensive as someone would normally expect.
On the other hand, Trump's supporters and all those who had enough of the pro-war neoliberal establishment, felt a kind of vindication, as it appeared that Trump would eventually keep its promise for an 'anti-interventionist' policy.
But the blog wrote immediately a 'not so fast' article to explain that most of the Americans and all those who are tired of the US endless wars, should not rush to celebrate. We estimated that Trump's move is probably a sign that he is going to re-organize troops and go after the big target called Iran.
Indeed, shortly after the move, Trump, suddenly again, announced that he will also pullout troops from Afghanistan.
And then, about…

Panicked neoliberal tools attempt to trigger a war of generations against AOC's progressive counterattack

globinfo freexchange
We were slightly surprised to see such an article title in one of the primary info tools of the global neoliberal regime and financial capital. But the subtitle immediately clarified everything.
When we read the title “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Revenge of the Millennials” of the article in Bloomberg, we thought that we might be in front of a small miracle. We thought that the time has come for some people inside the core of the establishment apparatus to admit that the younger generations have lost dramatically from this brutal system. And so, the time has come to overthrow it, take their 'revenge'.
But no, it was too good to be true.
The subtitle immediately revealed the trick: “The Democrats’ major economic initiatives tend to favor the young at the expense of the old.”
Then, inside the article we read: “Almost every major new economic initiative proposed by Democrats — the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, debt-free college — has a common feature: Un…

Confirmed: Germany builds its own imperialist empire

globinfo freexchange
Almost two years ago we identified Germany's efforts to develop its military in the context of its ambition to build its own sphere of influence.
As we wrote, Brexit will give the chance to Germany to increase influence due to the change of power balance, especially now that France appears weak - crawling behind Berlin's austerity, sado-monetarism and neoliberal destruction. These conditions (created in the Greek experiment), are necessary to Germany in order to retain a model in favor of its surpluses. These could become the solid ground upon which Germany could build a strong, modern military machine.
Therefore, Merkel knows that the economic domination is not adequate for a country to become a major power. It is also important to have a strong military presence in its “sphere of influence”, or, its financial/debt colonies, if you prefer. The German military presence in Lithuania is a first step towards this direction as the Baltic countries have already be…

The desperate efforts of the Western neoliberal establishment to build a new propaganda machine

globinfo freexchange
The UK government and other Western governments and the US in recent years have had increasing difficulties persuading enough of their populations as to the legitimacy of the foreign policies that they have been pursuing.
And at the same time, Western countries have been going through a period of political crisis and economic crisis.
Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at the University of Sheffield, further explains:
I think a lot of this drive is as much about trying to shore up shaky official narratives and trying to shore up political systems in a situation of political crisis, as it is actually about countering Russian propaganda.
I would suspect that that's a little bit of an excuse here to really what's going on of problems much closer to home.
This is not just to do to UK, this is Europe-wide. And there are also indications from the documents that they are intending to start to have some kind of impact within the United…

WikiLeaks disturbing and hopeful findings on Tulsi Gabbard's path to progressiveness

The definite detachment from the Clintonian machine
globinfo freexchange
Searching the Podesta emails inside WikiLeaks we found a rather disturbing fact about Tulsi Gabbard who recently announced that she will run for the 2020 US presidency. Iraq War Veteran, Jon Soltz, chairman at VoteVets at the time, sent an email on Aug. 2012 to Hillary Clinton top lobbyist, John Podesta, in order to thank him for his contribution to Gabbard's campaign in Hawaii.
Soltz wrote (emphasis added):
This morning, we are one step closer to making history. In Hawaii, VoteVets PAC-endorsed Iraq veteran Tulsi Gabbard has won her primary, in a stunning come-from-behind victory. If she wins in November, she along with Tammy Duckworth (who we also feel very good about), would be the first female combat veteran ever elected to Congress in United States history! This is happening because of you. Your tens of thousands of dollars in donations for Tulsi's campaign, through VoteVets PAC, allowed her to run a fir…

The difference between Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn and what the US elections won't allow you to decide

globinfo freexchange
A country that has been completely taken over by the banking mafia and the corporate power will never allow people to decide on the most important issue: the abolition of the dominant system that works against them.
Professor Richard Wolff explains:
Because of Bernie Sanders, particularly, we now have the word Socialism floating around, but typically it's about, more or less, really among Democrats. Like Mr. Sanders is ambiguously an independent but he's also a Democrat.
So, the ‘Socialists’ seemed to be the Democrats who want to do more for people. Social welfare, social supports, state supports, versus those who don't want to do quite so much - the centrist Democrats, like Clinton and Obama.
But the real question is a program of change. Socialism is a change of system it goes away from capitalism to do something else. It would be interesting if we could have an election ‘do we want that?’, ‘would we like a different system?’.
There are countries doing t…

The IMF is dismantling Argentina all over again

Part 1
In September, Argentine president Mauricio Macri accepted the 2018 Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Award. In attendance were many of world’s neoliberal power players and policy makers, among them International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Facing the crowd, Macri gleefully admitted that “with Christine, I have to confess we started a great relationship some months ago,” referring to a series of loan agreements with the IMF amounting to $57.1 billion dollars. “I expect that this is going to work very well, and we will end up with the whole country crushing on Christine,” he continued.
This dynamic of chasing an improved image with the world’s big banks and the dominant economies in the West is emblematic of Macri’s priority to secure a relationship with the IMF and improve the country’s image with global financial institutions. But it comes at a devastating cost for the majority of the population who will suffer from neoliberal policy prescriptions of…

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 11 – The Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal legacy: a bizarre form of a sinister political doctrine from which it would be difficult one to escape
But Thatcher had to fight the battle on other fronts. A noble rearguard action against neoliberal policies was mounted in many a municipality –– Sheffield, the Greater London Council (which Thatcher had to abolish in order to achieve her broader goals in the 1980s), and Liverpool (where half the local councillors had to be gaoled) formed active centres of resistance in which the ideals of a new municipal socialism (incorporating many of the new social movements in the London case) were both pursued and acted upon until they were finally crushed in the mid-1980s.
She began by savagely cutting back central government funding to the municipalities, but several of them responded simply by raising property taxes, forcing her to legislate against their right to do so. Denigrating the progressive…

Banishing Truth

by Chris Hedges
The investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, in his memoir “Reporter,” describes a moment when as a young reporter he overheard a Chicago cop admit to murdering an African-American man. The murdered man had been falsely described by police as a robbery suspect who had been shot while trying to avoid arrest. Hersh frantically called his editor to ask what to do.
The editor urged me to do nothing,” he writes. “It would be my word versus that of all the cops involved, and all would accuse me of lying. The message was clear: I did not have a story. But of course I did.” He describes himself as “full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship.
Hersh, the greatest investigative reporter of his generation, uncovered the U.S. military’s chemical weapons program, which used thousands of soldiers and volunteers, including pacifists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as unwitting human guinea pigs to measure…

All the right progressives are running for 2020 ... but they need a really smart strategy to have a chance against the neoliberal beast

globinfo freexchange
More than a year ago we wrote that the 2016 electoral process in the US was particularly useful because it highlighted many interesting unprecedented aspects. One of them, is that you don't need the mainstream media to promote you. Especially the young Americans discovered and promoted Bernie Sanders through the independent and social media on the Internet. Another aspect, is that you don't need big money to support you. These new conditions could be proven valuable towards the creation of a third political movement, coming straight from the people, which could seriously challenge the current corrupted political establishment.
We also wrote that we can think at least four progressives that should join forces to lead such a political movement right now: Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren.
Three of them already revealed their intention to run for the 2020 US presidency. Assuming that the Greens won't change leadership, Jill Stein wi…